horz line

Metre–reader Readiness

photo: resto, le bugatti, italiano

A snazzy Italian spaghetti parlor.

'Fluff' Turns Into Drizzle

by Ric Erickson

Paris:– Monday, 5. April 2004:– There is no reason to make a big song and dance about the weather. The closer to Easter it is, the worse it will get. From the looks of it, the last ray of sunshine may be tomorrow morning, and it is not at all certain.

Like today there will be rainy or drizzly periods, and between these periods it will be cloudy all the time. If the wind fromposter: fete de l'arbre the northwest was like it was today – you will notice it tomorrow and on Wednesday.

You will also notice it because it isn't a wind blowing from the slightly warm Gulf–stream waters off the west coast of Ireland. Nah! It'll be a crummy damp wind that will hold high temperatures down to a maximum of ten degrees until Friday at least. Low temperatures after tonight will hover just below five degrees.

It is possible that by Thursday the wind will swing around to the southwest and blow a bit warmer weather this way, but probably not before next weekend. And since the coming weekend is Easter, don't count on it being balmy here. No doubt Italians making repeat visits will dress as they have in the past – for winter.

Café Life

Metre–reader Readiness

Visits by my electricity-metre reader are rare. EDF would like the counter to be read by one of their experts at least twice a year, so they send a letter saying that this will happen – for example, next Monday between 8:00 and 10:00.

If you, like I do, routinely work until midnight or later, this early morning time is not particularly welcome. Sometimes there is the option to have the customer read the metre and send them the number, but when I tried it I couldn't figure out which of eight different numbers was the right one.

My door–buzzer is an add–on one, without wires. It works via magic rays, and requires batteries. When the original batteries died of old age – when? – I replaced them with old recharged batteries. Experience shows that these don't last long at all.

To prepare for the arrival of the electricity metre-reader, I recharged a couple of batteries. I tested them too. At 8:45 the next morning they worked fine, the metre–reader read the number and left, and I went back to what I'd been doing.

Imagine my total surprise then, to get an electricity bill a week later – amounting to over a year's worth ofphoto: palm tree consumption. Just before the metre– reading episode, EDF had asked me if I wouldn't prefer six–month bills instead of quarterly ones, and I opted for the quarterly ones.

With the new bill, showing that I'd consumed over a year's worth of juice in three months, I was on the phone in a panic. I was asked to read the metre myself. But when I did, but the number was so obviously wrong that they said they'd send the metre–reader guy again. Almost the same deal as before – sometime between 08:00 and noon, the following Friday.

A lone palm thrives in the depths of the 15th arrondissement.

Before then I figured out the data on the bill by comparing it to other bills. I also figured out the counter, by repeatedly pushing a button to finally display a reasonable and likely consumption number.

Last Thursday evening, after the week's club meeting, I recharged the door–buzzer's batteries again and tested the thing. At some forsaken hour on Friday morning, the buzzer buzzed again and a metre–reader came in and read a number. After he left, I read it too, and wrote the number down.

The numbers on the electricity metre are no longer a mystery. The buzzer batteries remain a problem, but as long as I know somebody is coming, I can recharge them. For anybody else, they will need heavy knuckles.

Then there was the second–round of the elections. In the following week EDF displayed full–page ads in Le Parisien, to tout itself as a good investment opportunity, because the government needed to sell it because Brussels insists that the electricity market should be open to competition.

As the election results sunk in, the government decided not to be so hasty to sell the state electricity monopoly. Until I get a corrected bill, I am not going to rush out and buy any long–life batteries for the door–buzzer.

Fête de l'Arbre

Without much warning Le Parisien announced the Fête de l'Arbre for the weekend of 3–4. April, on Saturday, 3. April. I was, I admit, totally unprepared for this important 'fête.' It is not clear whether it is an annual event or a brand–new one.

According to the paper there were to be at least three demonstrations – of logging in the Parc Monceau, a big gardenphoto: park place du commerce in front of the Hôtel de Ville, and a rash of plantings dispersed throughout several arrondissements. Until recently Paris trees were mainly plane trees, chestnuts, lime or linden, sophoras and maples.

A little park full of trees to hug.

In all, there are 92,000 trees in Paris. Their average lifespan is 60 years and 1500 are replaced every year, and 400–odd are added to the park. As a result of observing the China palms put in place for Paris Plage in the summer, city forestry experts think this tree can thrive in Paris' climate, because it seldom gets colder than –18 degrees.

The article mentions that some palms have been planted at the Porte Dorée, near the museum. I managed to find a lone one in the remote 15th arrondissement, beside the Square Saint–Lambert.

But we'll never see an eucalyptus in Paris. They can't withstand the least frost, and neither will date palms. The reason for greater biodiversity is simple – trees can fall victim to illnesses. At the turn of the decades 70–80, a third of Paris' trees suddenly died from a disease.

This is why you should hug a tree from time to time. They too can fall ill, get bored, have moods, drop their leaves and grow shiny and glossy new ones. Not only this, but birds do things in them, besides building nests.

The Next Exciting Elections

For those interested in how Europeans hold their elections, be sure to be here on Sunday, 13. June when the first–round of voting for the European Parliament is set to take place. Candidates surviving the first–round will be letting the voters have a 'winner–take–all' bash at them on the following Sunday, 20. June.

This may turn out to be fairly interesting in France, in light of the results of the regional elections, held last week. Voters here may not feel that their 'message' got through, so they may return to the polls to give the nail a proper whack to drive it home.

Two Headlines of the Week

'LES REVOILÀ!' – in letters 37 mm high, is last Thursday's Le Parisien headline, announcing that Prime Minister Jean–Pierre Raffarin's third government contains more than a couple of familiar faces, recycled from what is called here simply, 'Raffarin II.' Many voters were also surprised to find a recycled Prime Minister. Jacques Chirac went on TV to tell the nation that 'he got the message,' but it's hard to tell what difference it has made. From last Webesday's Le Parisien, the 40 mm high headline 'RISQUÉ!' sums up the situation.

The First Bi–Weekly Repeat of Plugs in April

Push this link to a recent issue's 'Café' page, where the usual plugs encouraging 'support for this magazine' and its 'Lodging' page are quietly waiting for you to visit them right now.

Last Thursday's Café Metropole Club 'Report'

To keep up to date take look at the last meeting's version of the 'Unpredictable' Indianapolis is a 'Cityphoto: blossums, sq st lambert of the Week' club report. The 'unpredictable' about Indianapolis was never explained but nobody other than 'Ed' seemed to notice.

Despite a spring's recession, blossums are already out.

The coming meeting of the Café Metropole Club is on Thursday, 8. April. The Saint's Day of the Week will be Sainte–Julie. Frankly, I am starting to doubt that my calendar has real French saints. The only Julie that was a saint – martyred in the 5th century – is supposed to have Saturday, 22. May for a day, but this is occupied by Saint–Emile. Then there was Julie, Augustus' daughter, who was said to have 'deregulated' morals, who died in the year 14 but not as a saint.

Some minor details about the club can all be found on the 'About the Club' page. The virtual club membership card on this page is as free as standard air and valid for your whole lifetime, everywhere in the world.

This Was Metropole One Year Ago

Issue 8.15 – 7. April 2003 – for this tiny issue the Café Metropole column's headline was 'Dozy in Paris, More Air, More Fresh,' which was followed by the brief 'Au Bistro' column's 'In Only 22 Words.' The Scène column's title was 'From Gauguin to Ming.' The Café Metropole Club update for 10. April was titled, 'The Return of Bongo' report. The four new 'Postersphoto: sign, rue du theatre of the Week' were on view and Ric's cartoon of the week was captioned 'Only Smoking is Legal.'

This Was Metropole Two Years Ago

Issue 7.15 – 8. April 2002 – this week's Café Metropole column's was titled 'A Smaller, Return–to–Work Issue,' because of 'Ed' having been in New York. The 'Au Bistro' column was omitted in favor of a rare baseball report, titled 'Big–Time Baseball As Seen from a High Place.' The Café Metropole Club updates on 28. March and 4. April were ably handled by Linda Thalman. The 11. April club update was titled, "The Only Shopping This Time" report. There were four colorful 'Posters of the Week' and Ric's cartoon caption of the week was captioned, 'Happy Landings.'

Paris Fêtes the Queen

To the delight of all secret royalists in France, Queen Elizabeth II – not to be confused with a boat – arrived in France today for a three–day blitz– visit. The reason for the visit is the 100th anniversary of the 'Entente Cordiale,' which has nothing to do with something you add to ultra–dry white wine to make it drinkable.

After about 874 years of intense rivalry between France and Britain, the two countries discovered that peace had broken out and decided about 24 years later – in 1904 – to divide the colonial world between themselves and quit bickering. This 'gentlemen's agreement' – which excluded colonial power Germany – could be seen as one of the historical issues that caused World Wars One and Two, but nobody in France is quibbling today because Germany is a €–land and Britain is not.

After the horrendous traffic jams caused by the Paris visit of China's president in January, the Queen's itinerary has been modified so that only the areas of the Elysée Palace and the Champs–Elysées will be affected today. The Queen arrived about 15:00 via the Eurostar at Gare du Nord, and that sector was affected too.

The Queen expressed a desire for a stroll in the Rue du Faubourg–Saint– Honoré later this afternoon – in a breezy drizzle, from the Elysée Palace tophoto: sign, vdep, les pelouses sont en repos hivernal the British Embassy. Parisians who may wish to see the Queen have been advised to use public transport, even if selected Métro stations are closed, and 21 bus lines have been disrupted.

'The grass in this garden is in winter sleep until 15. April.'

For Tuesday, motorists have been advised by the prefecture to avoid the Bastille area, followed by the Hôtel de Ville, and Montorgueil which is near enough to Les Halles to cause total havoc on Sébasto. In a charged schedule, the Queen and Prince Phil are also supposed to pay lightening visits to the British art section in the Louvre, and the Queen is supposed to address deputies and senators at the Senat in French.

Luckily, the Queen's schedule for Wednesday is programmed for a visit to Toulouse to visit the Airbus works. By noon her passage out of Paris via Invalides, Denfert–Rochereau and the Porte d'Orléans, should be history.

This is the Queen's fourth state visit to Paris since 1957. According to Le Parisien, the Queen is on a PR visit to Paris and Toulouse because of some tense moments between Jacques and Tony, even though the 'Entente Cordiale' is still in effect.

While Germany's Gerhard hasn't been invited, and the British and the French are expected to co–operate on building aircraft carriers, other Europeans are a bit worried about a possible new–version Germano–Franco–Brito 'Entente Cordiale.'

'Non' au Countdowns

On account of the extraordinary 'Fête' above, the tedious countdowns usually found in this space have been banished to last week's issue. If you care to read them again, do not forget to subtract about seven days from all dates, except the original ones that the countdowns are based on. So sorry!

2004 Won't Last Forever

It is too soon to say whether this year will be worth remembering or not. The least we can do is keep track of its disappearance. As of today there are about 270 days left in this year. In Paris nothing is getting any younger by the minute, just as it has been not doing so every day for over 2052 years – which amounts to, very roughly, about 749,000 days.

'Ric's Day Off' last week was another good–weather day but none of it was spent in a small park sitting in the sunshine watching some sort of strange bird building a nest. After proof–reading last week's issue, no time was left for idle pursuits of any kind.
signature, regards, ric

horz line
Send email concerning the
contents to: Ric Erickson, Editor.
Metropole Midi © 2014
– unless stated otherwise.
logo, metropole sml midi logo No matter how good it tastes,
there is no such thing
as a free lunch.
Waldo Bini